My first experience with AirBnb should have been more positive than it was. Twenty plus years running BnB with other sites was very successful however AirBnb is taking over fast. So I joined. First guests....Nationally famous, well travelled...and travelling with a "service dog" for his blind wife. I hesitated as we have a no pet policy. (too many expensive damages to carpets, fleas, poop on front lawn, etc). However did you know that you cannot refuse a guest with a guide/service dog. Is there a difference between the two? Some have registration papers and others not and depends on state, province, country policies. So I said yes to a 33 day booking.
This is what transpired after we communicated and they agreed that the dog would be with them 24/7. They said they would arrive at 5pm (and did call shortly before that to say they were in the community). They actually arrived 3 hrs late. The dog did not have a collar, coat, harness, lead, etc. Upon arrival, they "dropped off" the dog in the apartment and took off for a two hour dinner. The dog did not stop barking the entire time. Day two, I took them extra keys. The dog was running out of control over the hardwood floors playing with a ball...and she looked as blind as I did. Day 3, they called and said there was too much noise from the front of the building. Day 5, they called and asked that I have my family leave the property as it was disturbing their silence. Day 7, they did not allow me in to the apartment to clean and vacuum the dog hair. Day 14, I was in cleaning and the counters were scratched and gouged so badly because they did not "see" the three cutting boards on the counter. Day 15, they complained that the noise at night was so loud they could not sleep. Day 16 I was called and told that someone in our local grocery store parking lot had hit the front end of the blind wife's rental car. The dog never left the apartment and she was travelling 60 km daily to go to work????? There was poop everywhere and they were taking the dog next door....Lawn Bowling Greens...to play frizby. OMG she IS blind as she did not read the sign that says "DO NOT TRESPASS...KEEP OFF THIS GRASS". Many calls at this point to Airbnb. I was frantic. They left the apartment to do a "GiG" in another province for five days and I went in to clean. I took pictures....lots. I vacuumed three times and jammed the unit with massive balls of dog hair...everywhere. The sectional sofa was now in two pieces (unhooked????), bigger, better gouges in our beautiful new counter, burn holes from a match (which I found!)on the comforter that went from top through the sheets, matress pad and matress. Wire waste basket mutilated, etc, etc. The dog gouged and scratched the hardwood floors and it took one month of vacuuming to finally get all of the hair out of the carpets. Never seen anything like this. And oh btw, the car damages....pretty sure she did that herself as I took a good hard look. It would appear that she didnt pay attention when backing out and probably dinged the driver side front bumper on the car parked beside her...probably because she is blind....and didnt have the dog with her. In a small community, people are usually pretty conscientious and courteous. We would never hit and run in a parking lot but rather leave a note, "sorry here is my number". When they did leave I cried and it took two days to clean up after them. All the dishes were dirty and left for me in the sink. Dog Hair, Dog Hair, Dog Hair. and I became responsible for damaged to our neighbouring greens.
Before saying yes to guests with pets, do your local research...or as I do...book the first one or two nights to your spouse. "Decline".
No, I'm not wrong - The ADA hotline does not and cannot give legal advice. My legal advice foundation and advising comes directly from a civil rights attorney. In the last two decades of having service dogs in the house, I've filed around 9 complaints with the Department of Justice (ADA) and one complaint with the AG of MA, and in one case an attorney that worked with a service dog org found us. In that case we went to mediation and there was a settlement. All these cases were found in our favor. In the MA case, the AG of the commonwealth fined the company $1000 and filed a document with the court to stay on file in case this company ever denied access again. None of these were lawsuits. This is something I am, unfortunately, all too intimately familiar with.
Also, I never said private homes (renting single rooms where the owner OCCUPIES the house) must follow the ADA that applies to service dogs. But private homes RENTED (full homes or apartments - like vacation homes, where the owner does NOT occupy the premises and where these are advertised to the public are NOT EXEMPT. These short-term (vacation rental) must allow service dogs even if they do not allow pets.Also, some regulations (depending on the state) may also fall under the FHA (Fair Housing Act).
One other thing that needs to be investigated is the individual state regulations set forth. If the state regulations go further and give more protection to the person with the disability - then those are the regulations to follow.
AirBnB is a corporation. They can set their own rules. While their rules can't violate the law, they can be restrictive as far as who they allow to advertise and be part of their network. In other words, follow their rules or don't participate.
YOU said, "What could have happened prompted me to look into the law...that's when I found out that any scammer can self-certify that their dog is a service dog, pay $250, and get the trappings. People with disabilities can also train their own dogs (regardless of training ability). As a dog business owner, I have met few certified trainers who can train properly, much less a layperson (and I met some laypeople can train better than certified trainers)!"
There is NO national or State certification for service dogs. Yes, people can self-train their dogs. But the people who "sell" worthless pieces of paper they call certification, are scammers.
As far as dog parks go - I know a lot of individuals who have service dogs and some who train for organizations. No one in their right mind would take a service dog to a dog park unless the dog park was for service dogs only and there is only one of those in the US that I know of.
I agree and am pro national certification but the devil is in the details. Will taxpayers pay for this service? Who decides whether a service dog is trained? The problem is not those with disabilities. The problems begin with those selfish individuals who want to take their untrained pets with them and lie about having a disability and a trained service dog. As much as we love our daughter's service dog, we would give anything for her not to need him. Unless the circumstances are unusual for some reason, we will not let anyone know we are traveling with a service dog. I used to be accommodating but I won't sacrifice my daughter's well-being or apologize for equal access because a business owner doesn't understand the law or is unwilling to make an accommodation required by law.
I appreciate you posting this. Thank you. I too used to be accommodating. I would have some kind of conversation with the host . However, I'm done. I try to be considerate. Unfortunately, the host who was the straw that broke the camel's back was not only inconsiderate, they were hostile. Our messaging back and forth was polite on my end but the messages from The Host were impolite to the point of using foul language. For my last two rentals I gave the host no Advance warning that Tiger was coming with me. In one case the owner did call Airbnb. I don't know what Air B&B told them but they were minimally polite after the call. In the other case the host was minimally annoyed . He use the term "pet" when I first arrived . I explained the difference between a pet and a service animal . He asked me a few questions. questions were beyond the scope of what they can legally ask me but I was more than happy to oblige. I even showed him some of the tasks tiger performs. We had a very cordial visit . At the end of that one week stay The Host went out of his way to comment on Tigers Behavior. He did not so far as to say that he was okay with service animals , but I got the impression that he understood and perhaps changed his thinking . Sadly, we both know that eventually someone will show up to his home with a phony and my educational effort will have been in vain. Sigh
Steven, I know exactly how you feel. This is why we never tell anyone either. Like you once the hosts meet my daughter's dog and see his behavior - they oooo and ahhh because he is pretty much invisible and because he is so well-behaved. But like you we've had rentals where the owners are nasty and if their behavior is displayed in front of our daughter - her perception is they are attacking her dog - which is an extension of her. Too many people are clueless about the differences and fakers seem to abound.
I am not sure where the 30-day number came from. Two things. First, any state in which you rent an Airbnb where an occupancy tax is collected would not fall in this category. Number two, it's all academic because Airbnb has specific rules regarding service animals. The length of a guest stay is not in those rules
You have no idea how frustrated I am as the owner of a legitimate service animal without whom I could not live my life. I do my best. I never show up to a hosts home without them knowing Tiger's coming with me. In the end, I don't get why anyone would want to rent a home from someone who doesn't want them. When I send a message to a host I always inform them I have a service animal. It is very easy for me to write a note that easily gives the host a way out without them going afoul of ADA regs.
But the bottom line is, if you are an Airbnb host you're pretty much stuck if your renting a home or an unshared space. I can go on but I'm just so frustrated seeing threads like this. Threads like this exist because there are so many people out there scamming. My dog's vest cost $75. My dog's training cost $7,500. I would love to see some kind of National Registry. And I am not talking from the American registry for service dogs.
I truly feel for all the hosts that have to put up with this crap. It's all coming to a head. But not soon enough.
Like you steven, my daughter's service dog balance harness was around 75$ and we raided $14,000 for her most recent service dog - half the cost of his raising and training.
Hi Heather and Lauren,
It is true about ADA law and private homes being rented less than 30 days are exempt from accessibility rules. However, Air BnB as a company has very clear rules for hosts about assistance animals (service dogs) under their Nondiscrimination Policy. My understanding is that to be a host through Air BnB all hosts agree to these policies. So Nancy E is in fact correct in this case that trained service dogs needed for a person with a disability (like me) are by federal law allowed to have their dogs admitted in all Air BnB rentals unless there are safety concerns like Lauren mentioned such as livestock as part of their property that endangers both the service dog-handler team and the livestock.
I totally agree that there ought to be national certification for real service dogs. Currently there is no such thing in the USA. Canada has one though, which makes it tricky to travel there with my service dog. So cheaters will be cheaters, slap a online bought vest and ID registration card (that's actually a good way to know the team is likely not for real, but it's not proof that they are faking and cheaters...) and mess up the perception of service dogs for us who really need to have one with us all the time and have highly trained dogs. And yeah, even those who have diagnosed ADA recognized disabilities sometimes try to self-train their dogs and don't do it well, which ends up giving the rest of us a bad name.
What I can tell you is that my dog, bred to be in service, trained professionally for service (I had to take out a loan to purchase him), I had to also get trained with my dog for 2 weeks (and pay the associated cost to travel 1400 miles), passed his advanced American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen public access tests (not required, illegal to ask me to show proof, but I wanted to do it for myself) and when we are out in public this is what shop and business people say: "oh, so THAT's what a real service dog is supposed to be like". "you can always tell a real service dog". No eye contact with other people around - eyes only on me, ignores people when they try to touch him and in fact moves away, looks at other animals but doesn't move toward them, doesn't vocalize (bark) unless it's by command or it's signaling to me. He is a WONDER - and yet because of the fakers I'm under stress when I book hotels and the clerk says "do you have proof/certificate that your dog is a service dog?" and I want to scream "no you can't ask for that, there are no certificates for service dogs!, asking me that is against the law arrrrggghhh!.
Which brings up the point, NO service dog should EVER be left in any hotel or rental lodging by itself, and I mean EVER. The whole point of a service dog is to be with its handler to help them live their daily lives like everyone else who is not disabled. The dog can't do that if it's left in a condo or hotel or whatever. Any handler that leaves their dog behind is a faker is what I say. My dog stays tethered to me or on leash dragging it behind him even in my own house. He is always by my side, leashed when we're out out of the house (well except in my own backyard when we are playing).
I cannot help that I need my dog to help me navigate life, I have a disability. And it makes me sad that because of fakers and cheaters a super high rated renter like me will be given the stink eye from hosts who advertise 'no pets' and I'm up front about me traveling with my necessary service animal. I would like to stay in homes of my choice and amenities like everyone else. I want to be welcomed by all the hosts like I used to be before I needed my service dog.
Thanks for reading.
Very well-said!. My daughter's dog is also purpose bred for service. We've had such terrible experiences, we just don't tell anyone anymore. We would also never rent a shared space.
So, here's the thing. I work with Special Needs children, and am well aware of the ADA Act. I advocate regularly for the children and families I work with. But I do not own a hotel. And I do not rent out my whole home. In fact, we basically only rent when we will be present. I like AirBnB because I have the right to say "no" to bookings if the verification, or reason for a "stay" makes me uncomfortable. For many AirBnB hosts - this is our HOME - not necessarily a rental property. I love dogs. We have had dogs. But at this point, we have cats from shelters...one of whom is petrified of dogs. I mean, if I have to say yes to a service dog, I will need to worry that she will run away....or hide for a week in a nook in the basement.
Also, We make a point to keep the bedrooms "fur free".
So while I understand the need for service dogs - and truly appreciate it. I do feel a bit miffed about having to risk our cat's life in order to accomodate everyone. If we were the only game in town, I'd understand. But there is a pet-friendly rental a few miles away.
requiredrequired Youortunately you only get a couple of 'I'm uncomfortable' denials without penalty and airbnb's policies are more stringent than US Law. Guest not required to tell you in advance if they have an animal and you are not allowed to turn away an ESA or SD or SP unless it is unruly! It really is ridiculous.
You make such a logical and important point... people who want to live with their dog for health or other reasons have the option of purchasing dog rentals where their dandor, hair, stench and excrement is tolerated. How is it possible to discriminate against people with children which is standard in vacation rentals but force canines? Children have damaged so much of my property and I continue to accept them because they are the future and we all have to do our part... including accepting service dogs where it is an issue to ask for a pet deposit by the way... they tell you at midnight just before arrival and refuse stating we have no right to ask for it... it is the f o r c e d acceptance that is unfair in an animal free property to avoid allergic reactions in subsequent guests from hair, urine etc. in and around the property.... human children not allowed... dogs forced upon us when they have every option of choosing a dog hair house to rent.
P.s. The emotional service dog ran into the middle of the city street leaving its owner on the curb sitting down by the way ... what a joke although I said nothing......a vest on a dog is not a service dog and the woman was horrendously rude and agressive ..her dog not calming her aparently. ...I host people with their dogs long term...and love guests who state they have a dog up front no problem service or a pet.....the sneakiness of last minute, late night service dog bombing is rude...especially when untrue.
FIRST of all Donna and most of - there is NO SUCH THING as an emotional support "service dog" and as far as I am concerned - those who pretend their dog is a service dog should be fined HEAVILY. As far as announcing we are traveling with a service dog - no I will never do that again. I've been burned too many times. I will, however, do all the due diligence as a good service dog handler for my daughter - meaning her dogs is always groomed, always almost invisible, always well-behaved, clean and mitigating her disability. There is no need to scold someone or infer that exercising my daughter's rights to travel unencumbered is rude. I will always do my part and I expect the same of hosts.
No, they don't always have that option. What we do is look for the place that best suits my daughter's needs - and there are a number of prerequisites, then if a place is dog-friendly fine but what I've found is that usually is not the case. Most educated people don't have a problem with a service dog. What is making this situation worse are the fakers. Now everyone thinks all people are fakers. So if you are upset - be upset with the fakers and not legitimate service dog owners and handlers - Another BIG problem is that most people including business owners, Airbnb and others really do not know the difference between a service dog and an ESA - We signed a contract with the org that trained my daughter's dog and they require us to show his credentials - I also give them the answers to the two questions before anyone thinks to ask - I want people to be comfortable with the FACT that my daughter's dog is a REAL service dog mitigating numerous disabilities. If there is pushback I will not apologize for her exercising her rights - I will always be polite but firm and if I was coming with a child on crutches, I wouldn't feel the need to tell an establishment that either - or what medications she takes etc.
That argument (pet-friendly accommodations) goes both ways. People are not required to offer their property for rent with Airbnb.
If accommodating those with disabilities is as big a problem as some here have asserted, then just don't go into the business of renting. If someone does not like their rules, no one is forcing them to participate.
On the other hand, those with disabilities can't just leave their disability (and medical equipment) service dog at home.
As far as "pet-friendly" places, service dogs are not pets and when looking for a place, people who have an ADA recognized disability, should not have to look only at "pet-friendly" places that may or may not meet their needs and be in the geographic area required or have the accommodations they want when traveling. Allergies are not a reason to deny access to a person with a disability - courts have long ago ruled on this.
I just want to piggy back on this real quick. I went to Vegas with some good friends last year. I have a service dog. She is a balance/mobility assist dog. She is also a FABULOUS Standard Poodle. (my daughter has allergies so hypoallergenic dog was a necessity) Anyway, I called the hotel and airline ahead of time and was assured she wouldn’t be a problem and that I had nothing to worry about. When I got to the hotel they attempted to put me in the “pet” accommodation area of the hotel. Umm... NOPE! Not on MY watch. I politely but firmly stated that they could not relegate us to a pet friendly area of the hotel as she is NOT a pet and that would put her and I both 1. In an unsafe environment with dogs that may be dog aggressive 2. In constant access to untrained and distracting dogs. 3. In constant access to persons who would likely not be cognizant of or respectful of the fact that she’s a service dog and not a pet and would therefore likely interfere with her work. 4. Relegating us to a specific area because she is a dog and not a wheelchair is against the law.
Disabled persons should never have to be relegated to only certain accommodations just like black people should never be relegated to the back of the bus. Doing so limits our ability to function normally and freely.
I get it. People with fake service dogs and untrained support animals are the bane of all of our existence. But there ARE a few remedies and thankfully a true service dog and even a truly functional support animal are EASY to identify. 1. They are ALWAYS with their handlers 2. They are ALWAYS calm, well mannered and are focused on their handler and the work they are performing. 3. They are NEVER off leash in public. Any animals you see or experience acting unruly, being left behind by their handlers, defecating indoors etc... you ALWAYS have the right to ask them to board their dog for the remainder of their stay with you or leave the premises. That is your LEGAL out. 100%